Tools and technology are the infrastructure that underpin much of membership. These systems will influence every aspect of your publication’s approach to membership — from how you publish stories to how you process credit card payments. There are dozens of decisions that every publication has to make when it comes to their technology: Should you build a new product or use an outside vendor? Which vendor will you choose? How much will you pay for a particular product or service? The list goes on and on.
These choices aren’t just about technology. Your technical stack reflects your values and supports and enables your editorial mission. The choices you make about tools and technology can help create outstanding community-oriented journalism and support a robust membership program. In fact, it helps to think about the value proposition of your membership program and the experiences you want to create as you are making technical choices.
But technical choices can also have unintended consequences and limit your options in the future. This section will provide the information, context, and cautionary tales you need in order to make good choices. It also offers case studies and tips for what to do when you inherit a poor tech choice or are stuck with limited options due to decisions beyond your control or budget limitations.
If you do not have in-house technological expertise, such as a chief technological officer (CTO), a lead engineer, or any developers, you may find value in hiring a consultant or tech lead to help you. This section offers advice on how to hire for those roles.
To source the tools included here, the research team surveyed newsrooms around the world about the tools and services they’re using to produce coverage and serve their members. This section does not include every suggestion received but attempts to represent the breadth of options in the following categories:
• Content Management System
• Email Service Provider
• Customer Relationship Management Software
• Social Media Management
• Payment platforms
• Audience Analytics
• All-in-one membership platforms
• Commenting Platforms/Listening Tools + Services
The sections below outline the key features you should look for when scouting these tools. The research team also compiled pricing information for the products where available online. If you are a nonprofit, many of these tools and services will offer special discounts for your newsroom.
For more resources and overviews of tech stack, here are some additional compilations:
In Latin America, Sembra Media has compiled comprehensive guides to tools for digital journalists and news entrepreneurs. (These guides were funded in part by the Lenfest Institute, which is co-publishing this guide.)
Public Media Tech Stack created an expansive guide to help newsrooms make ethical decisions about the tools they use.
This remainder of this section adapts and builds on previous MPP research “What to know when choosing your membership tech stack,” by former Membership Puzzle Project coach Emma Carew Grovum.
- Content Management System
- Email Service Provider
- Customer Relationship Management Software
- Social Media Management
- Payment platforms
- Audience Analytics
- All-in-one membership platforms
- Commenting Platforms/Listening Tools + Services